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3 posts from March 7, 2013

March 07, 2013

Dolphins have eyes on Cyprien, Tourek Williams

Last week I guess I went on something of a mini blog rant about how the Dolphins need to do a better job of identifying, scouting and picking up local college talent because it's embarrassing when other NFL teams come into Miami's backyard and find nuggets the Dolphins missed.

Well, I'm happy to report the Dolphins are at least taking steps toward making sure that doesn't happen this year. Today at the Florida International University and University of Miami Pro Days in Southwest Miami and Coral Gables, the Dolphins were out in full force.

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland attended both Pro Days. He and New England coach Bill Belichick were the only GM or coach types that did that, apparently.

The Dolphins had five people at FIU and they had their eyes set on safety Jonathan Cyprien and DE Tourek Williams -- two undervalued but solid prospects.

Cyprien, the better known of the two, has flown up draft boards since the Senior Bowl. He did nothing to stop that rise as he reportedly ran the 40 in 4.5 twice. He benched 225 pounds 18 times. He showed he has the measurables to go with a solid tape.

Williams was also quite impressive, if not moreso. He ran the 40 in 4.6 seconds on some watches at 253 pounds.


I frankly don't know enough about this player. So I suppose I will do what other NFL teams might be doing. They're checking the tape of him because that's a freakish time for that size man.

Defensive back Junior Mertile was the fastest player at the Pro Day. He ran a 4.3 time on some stopwatches. According to FIU reporter Pete Pelegrin, the Dolphins also administered a Wonderlic test to the player.

ESPN: Dolphins calling about Charles Woodson

A few weeks ago the Green Bay Packers cut safety Charles Woodson, a likely future Hall of Fame candidate, in order to clear salary cap space.

That made Woodson a free agent able to sign with any team he likes. Now ESPN's Josina Anderson is reporting that multiple teams have inquired about Woodson -- including the Miami Dolphins.

Citing NFL sources, Anderson says the Seahawks, Jets, Dolphins, and Giants have called to discuss Woodson as a possible addition.


I reached out to the Dolphins to ask if there is interest in Woodson and the reaction I got was like, "huh?"

Seriously. That was the text I got. It wasn't a denial, but neither did it seem like the Dolphins are fully in on the idea of adding Woodson.

Nonetheless, assuming the report is accurate -- and I must say Anderson is a crack reporter -- the Dolphins showing any interest in Woodson is a little out of character.

[Update: The report is accurate. Another Dolphins person is saying the Dolphins have called about Woodson.]

[Update 2: Now I'm told by someone else with the team the interest level in Woodson is "moderate."] 

Yes, Woodson played the last seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers after joining the team as an unrestricted fee agent. Yes, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was in Green Bay for six of those years as an offensive assistant.

But Woodson will be 37 years old in October. And everything the team has told me about its free agency approach includes the idea of adding young players in the prime of their careers that will be able to contribute for years to come. So I'd understand this if Woodson was 27 rather than going on 37.

There's also the matter of Woodson's health. He missed all but seven games last season with a broken collarbone. And did I mention he's going to be 37?

Nonetheless, the Dolphins do need help at safety. Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent. More importantly, Miami desperately needs a playmaker in the defensive backfield and Woodson is all that -- with 26 interceptions in the last five seasons. He also forced 12 fumbles during that span.

But there is a rub: 

Anderson tweeted she spoke with Woodson's agent Carl Poston and related this:

"Agent Carl Poston to me on Charles Woodson: 'I talked to Charles Woodson yesterday and we're discussing possible upcoming visits. There are a number of teams that have expressed interest in him. He is still interested in playing for a contender.'

Alrightie then.

Then why is he talking with the Dolphins?

The Dolphins are not today a contender for any type of championship. Sorry if that offends your fan sensibilities, but that's the truth. The club has had four consecutive non-playoff, losing seasons. The team has multiple needs. The quarterback has not yet proven he's elite. The team plays in the same division as the New England Patriots. And the last time the teams met, the Patriots dismantled the Dolphins in a season they swept the Dolphins and won five more games than Miami.

So if Woodson, who has said he wants to win another Super Bowl, is picking teams based on that, he might want to eliminate both the Dolphins and Jets from that group Anderson relayed.

But I guess anything is possible. (Not really).


Interest in Eric Winston makes sense for Dolphins

When Eric Winston was released by the Houston Texans last year he visited the Dolphins and that made sense because the club was looking for a good right tackle to replace Turnstile Colombo. Ultimately Winston didn't sign with the Dolphins because, in my opinion, his price was too high for the team and the Chiefs paid him closer to what he was looking for.

But that flirtation is important because he we are, one year later, and once again Eric Winston is looking for a team and once again the Dolphins are seemingly in the market for a starting right tackle.

Remember that I presented several scenarios by which the Dolphins could address their right tackle need in the coming days and weeks in a previous post. I say right tackle, because if one assumes Jonathan Martin moves to left tackle then that creates a need at RT.

Well, we can now add Winston as a possible solution.

And all this is good for Miami.

Understand that Winston was cut by the Chiefs because of money and that team's grand opportunity to upgrade the offensive line while paying less for the opportunity. The Chiefs signed Branden Albert to their franchise tag this year and can draft an outstanding tackle prospect with their first overall pick. So cutting Winston saved $3.5 million in cap space and over $5.5 million in actual cash for the franchise that can turn around and use its first pick on a very, very good, younger, cheaper player.

But it's not as if Winston, 29, played poorly last year. He yielded three sacks the entire season and was rated the No. 9 right tackle in the NFL by profootballfocus.com. The site also cited him as an undervalued player on the Chiefs -- in other words, he played better than his cap number.

That makes him a top 10 NFL right tackle.

Considering that there is a glut of right tackles about to hit the market -- including New England's Sebastian Vollmer and Minnesota's Phil Loadholt -- I'm not certain Winston is going to break the bank. Yes, he will have suitors. There is a report that the Eagles have interest in him.

But break the bank?

Don't see it.

Add to that the fact the Dolphins are in a much better salary cap situation now than last year, and it can be assumed they can get closer to signing Winston this year than last year if they wish.

I see that as the two sides being able to move closer to each other if they like. Financially, the addition of the former University of Miami standout to the Dolphins roster can make sense. It obviously makes sense from a mutual need standpoint.

The remaining question is if it makes sense from a scheme standpoint.

I think it does. Remember the Dolphins use primarily a zone blocking scheme up front. That's exactly the type of approach the Houston Texans use and used while Winston was there and the first six years of his career.

It makes sense for the Dolphins to at least show interest in Winston -- again.